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Being able to see the distance to different parts of the golf course is one of the best ways to become a more consistent golfer. One of the ways you can do this is by using a GPS, and in this post, we’ll be reviewing the SkyCaddie SX400 and talking about who it’s right for.
|Bigger screen||Not as many courses as Garmin|
|Easy to use features||Requires subscription (after trial)|
|Distance to any point|
|Ground verified courses|
Key Takeaways: Even though I’m not a fan of the annual fee, the SX400 has pretty much all the features you’d want on the golf course for a reasonable price. It’s our second favorite handheld GPS, behind the Garmin G80, but the price point is much lower.
Who Should Buy: The SX400 could be a solid pick for golfers who don’t like to wear watches and are only looking for GPS data. If you’re looking for club or swing tracking features, I’d recommend checking out our best golf GPS article to see if there is a better option for you.
SkyCaddie SX400 Setup
Recently I replaced my old SGX SkyCaddie with the latest SX400 model following several years of excellent and reliable use. After I broke the USB connector, rather than try to get it repaired, I decided it was time to upgrade to the latest touch screen model.
If you are new to SkyCaddie and have just bought an SX400, then you will want to go here to register and to see the full user guide as well as lots of videos about setting up and using your new SX400.
There are some great features available on the SX400, including score tracking, what’s in your bag, club yardages etc, the details for these can be set up online and synced with your device. Here I am going to cover the basics required to get on the course and play golf.
There are three main things you need to do before heading straight off to the course:
- Charge your SkyCaddie
- Activate the product and create an account at Sky Golf
- Sync your new device with up-to-date course information
SkyCaddie handheld models require a SkyGolf subscription ($29.95-59.95/yr) to take full advantage of all its many features. Usually, when making your purchase you will receive a 30-day trial so that it works straight out of the box.
More recently SkyGolf has been giving a free one-year package as a promotion and this comes in the form of a credit card type voucher which you can use when registering your new device.
If you are upgrading or replacing a previous handheld model like me and have an unfinished subscription in place, simply keep the card safe until your renewal date and then enter the details from the card to extend your subscription by one year.
To register and activate your new product, and create an account go to www.skygolf.com
The SX400 comes with over 35,000 courses preloaded, all walked and checked for accuracy, and with wifi connectivity, it is easy to “Sync” (download updates and courses) without the need to connect to a computer. All the information on how to do this is in the user guide.
Once your SX400 is fully charged, I always charge mine after each round as recommended, and once you have completed the Sync process, you are ready to head off to your favorite golf course.
Starting A Round
Once you get to the course, a few minutes before your tee time, switch on the SX400 using the lower of the two buttons on the right-hand side. The other button by the way is a toggle switch to adjust the screen brightness.
Select “Play Golf” using the touch screen and the SkyCaddie will search for nearby courses. This may take a few minutes depending on satellite connectivity so make sure you allow yourself enough time before the start of your round.
You should now see a selection of courses in your local area. In my area some 6 courses are shown in an approximate 10-mile radius, the first one usually being the one you are at. Tap on your chosen course to load it and see all the relevant features enabled then tap on Play Now at the bottom right of the screen.
Now tap on Start Round at the bottom right and the overview of hole 1 will appear on the screen and you are ready to play.
Build Quality & Design
I guess you know by now that this is my second SkyCaddie, so I’m already a fan of the system and the way it works. My SGX was great but this SX400 is even better. The whole thing oozes quality in black with lime green lines around the screen and on the back, making it look really classy.
It also feels less plasticky than the SGX with a rubberized and water-resistant outer that seems really robust and the full HD screen is clear and responds instantly to touch. Smartphone users will love it.
I wasn’t sure how much I would like the touch screen having been used to using a kind of mini-joystick to navigate around my old device but it has turned out to be very easy to use with access to all the features on offer.
If you use a PowaKaddy or something similar then there will usually be an inbuilt cradle for this type of device or an accessory available or you can use one of the holsters available to wear it on your belt. SkyGolf sells a wide range of accessories that will do the job as well as protective skins for extra security.
The SX400 has so many features and options it would be impossible to list them all here, but I am going to share with you the ones I find most useful.
- On course distance
- Shot/club yardages
- On course hazards and features
- Inteli green view
Course Distance (below): Of course, every device of this type from watches to handhelds will give you yardage information, but the SX400 gives yardages to targeted landing areas which can be adjusted to suit any type of shot you choose to play simply by moving the target point using the touch screen.
This will also then automatically adjust distances to the green from this landing point so that you can plan or change your strategy for playing that hole (sorry for the reflections on the screen, I don’t notice this in normal use).
Shot/Club Yardages (below): It’s been said many times how important it is to know how far you hit each club in the bag, but I am still surprised how often I see golfers hitting the wrong club because they over or underestimate their club yardages.
When using the SX400 it’s easy to check your yardage for every shot and every club by clicking on the ball icon at the bottom left of the screen before or immediately after taking your shot, then selecting Mark.
This will activate the yardage checking system which will continue until you reach your ball and check the screen where your yardage to that point will be shown. When you are sure how far you “really” hit each club, you will get the best out of your device.
Hazard Distance (below): One of the features I love most is being able to see all the yardages for hazards you will want to avoid.
The view in the picture on the left shows the third hole on my home course, a par 5, which has a bunker on the left of the fairway and a ditch running down the right. This view, for my second shot, shows the distances to carry hazards and the remaining yardage to the green.
Scrolling down the screen gives further information such as lay-up yardages and other hazards or course features. The user guide mentioned above will show you how to access this screen which is available for each hole.
Inteli Green View (below): Another view that can be selected when approaching the green will give you all the contours and yardages to various points on the green.
Using the moveable point in the center of the green allows you to pinpoint the flag position and adjust your approach shot accordingly. Even on a course that you are familiar with, this feature can really improve the way to play your final shot to the green.
Also, if your club publishes pin positions for the day which can be uploaded, this feature will give you even more accuracy.
SkyGolf App/Online Dashboard
When you create an account with SkyGolf you will also get access to the SkyGolf 360 system where you can add in details of your clubs, photos, link up with friends who also use SkyGolf 360 and more.
Once you start to use your SX400 and record scores, these will be added to your SkyGolf 360 account when you sync your device. Eventually, as your statistics build, you will be able to analyze your game and check and edit details of previous rounds.
From the screenshot above, you can see some of the statistics and categories available on my 360 account. You can also use it to see stats such as:
- Greens/Fairways in regulation
- Scorecards with overhead hole view
- Club distances
- Putting stats
Because Sky Golf actually walks and maps every course, I believe the accuracy is second to none, at least that is how it seems when I use it.
Recently, my golf club redesigned and modified the 10th green from a raised single level to a two-tier dogleg shape. Although it took a couple of weeks, which is understandable, given that I live in a small rural area, SkyGolf remapped that green and on my next sync, the new features and yardages were all there giving exact distance to all points.
Given that the approach to this green is over a water-filled ditch that continues to within 3 yards of the fringe, accuracy is really important.
When compared to the course markers giving 150 yards to green centers, sometimes the SX400 agrees, sometimes it doesn’t, and particularly, when considering the difference in distance that can occur from one side of the fairway to the other, the dynamic hole view comes into its own.
After 18 holes the SX400 still shows a battery life of around 75%, meaning 36 holes is possible, although I still haven’t tried that yet. But as I said before, I tend to charge after each round and sync at the same time so that I know it is also up to date.
If you use mobile data on your phone and choose to link the SX400 wifi to it, you can of course do a last-minute sync right there on the course. You may want to do this if for example your club or course provides daily pin locations for Sky Golf.
SkyCaddie SX400 vs SX550
As far as I can see, the primary difference between the two is one of size. The SX400 has a 4-inch screen whereas the SX550 has a 5.5-inch screen.
The SX550 also appears to be a more rugged build although it is now lighter and slimmer than the older SX500 which it has replaced.
I must confess to not having seen it in the flesh but I would say that if you think that bigger is better, then possibly the SX550 is for you even though I believe the software and performance capabilities are pretty much the same as the SX400.
What I Like
In my case, I prefer the smaller and neater build of the SX400 and the visibility of all the features is great. It’s a snap to get information quickly as well as being able to change views at a touch and adjust landing points to give perfect yardage into the green.
All information is in real-time and is constantly updated as I walk without the need to constantly check like with a scope-type device. I have never been able to hold one of those things steady enough to get consistently accurate readouts anyway so maybe that’s why I prefer the SkyCaddie.
If you are like me and want as much information as possible available, even if you choose to ignore it, then the SX400 could be for you.
What Could Be Better
The initial start-up is a bit long-winded and I think that at least one of the stages could be eliminated so that switching on to teeing up could be a little quicker. Also, there are so many parameters that can be changed it can be a little daunting when you first start to use it and maybe some of these could be simplified.
Having said that, I think this is a piece of equipment that, like me, you will learn to love. I probably only use about 20% of its features on a regular basis, but all the other stuff is there if I want it.
Should You Buy The SX400?
After everything we’ve talked about, you might still be wondering if the SX400 is right for you. Overall, I think it’s a really good product that would be a good fit for a lot of golfers. That being said, there could be other options that suit you better.
The SX400 will be perfect for you if you don’t like wearing watches (that was me for a while). It could also be perfect if you’re mainly going to be using it for course yardage.
Compared to other handheld units, the SX400 was probably our second favorite, next to the Garmin G80. The G80 has a built-in launch monitor and is also quite a bit more expensive. If you don’t want a launch monitor, the SX400 is the way to go.
If you’re looking for a GPS but you also want to track all of your club and game stats, the Shot Scope V3 could be the way to go. It is a watch, but the club tracking is automatic and super hands-off. The downside is that the GPS data isn’t as good as the SX400.
Note. If you’re still a bit confused about what to buy, I’d recommend checking out our best golf GPS article. It’ll compare all of our favorite units and could give you a better idea about which one is right for you.
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